On Wednesday, April 29, Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced that restrictions to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) would be relaxed starting Monday, May 4. Many businesses will be allowed to reopen, including restaurants not located in department stores or shopping centers, public and private parks, hair salons and barbershops, golf courses and driving ranges, sports venues for running, tennis and badminton, markets, clinics, and pet grooming businesses. All such businesses will be required to follow strict procedures to limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19; for example, customers will be subject to temperature screenings at restaurants, queuing at businesses will be banned in favor of reservations, and many employees will be required to wear face masks and gloves. A strict 2 m (6.5 ft) distance must be maintained in public, which precludes sporting activities such as football and basketball from taking place in parks.
Additionally, Bangkok's Don Mueang International Airport (DMK) is scheduled to open for additional flights starting Friday, May 1, as Thai AirAsia and Thai Lion Air resume some domestic flights. Passengers will be required to wear face masks while on board aircraft, and no drinks or food will be served during flights. Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) will also reopen for domestic flights starting May 1, though international flights will remain restricted.
All visas for foreigners who have entered Thailand legally were automatically extended until July 31 by parliament on April 28. The extension is valid for all foreigners whose visas were due to expire between March 26 and April 30. The government has also stated that if necessary, this measure will be extended on a month-by-month basis. Earlier, the government decreed migrant workers with expiring work permits would be permitted to stay in the country without having to apply for an extension until Thailand reopens its borders.
On April 27, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Awareness (CCSA) announced that the emergency decree and nationwide lockdown, originally scheduled to end on Thursday, April 30, will be extended until Sunday, May 31. The nightly curfew from 22:00 to 04:00 (local time) will continue, social gatherings will still be prohibited, and inter-provincial travel will remain limited. Only workers from essential services, such as healthcare workers, are exempt from the measures. Those in violation of the curfew may be fined THB 40,000 (USD 1235) or jailed for two years. All passengers must also wear face masks on public transport.
Separately, Army Chief Apirat Kongsompong ordered an increased security presence along the Thai-Malaysia border after 672 Thais entered Narathiwat province without undergoing health screening. The country has seen a growing number of illegal border crossings as Thai laborers have opted to pay fines instead of filling in the necessary forms. Officials have also raised concerns that separatist groups could exploit the situation to enter the country.
Authorities have also announced that land border closures will remain in place until May 31. Some exceptions to the travel ban will be made for people needing to travel for work in essential sectors, including transport, energy, finance, consumer products, and public health.
As of Thursday, April 30, there are 2954 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Thailand, with 54 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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